This very attractive example of a Pattern 1853 Type III “Enfield” rifle-musket bears the (CROWN) / SH / G3 mark that many collectors believe to be the mark of Schuyler, Hartley & Graham of New York. However, there is no evidence that this is actually the mark of that company. In fact, substantial evidence exists to support the belief that it is in fact a Confederate import mark. An in-depth study into the origin of the claim that this is the mark of Schuyler, Hartley & Graham has determined that it is simply gun show lore, with no basis in fact. The primary arguments in support of the mark being Confederate are these:
1) Every mark in this location (top of the butt comb, in front of the butt plate tang) that has been identified has been proven to be a Confederate mark. Including the famous JS / (ANCHOR), the various versions of the (CROWN) / SH / C / (ARROW) Sinclair, Hamilton & Company mark and the CH / 1 inspection mark of Curtis & Hughes. To date, no identified mark in this location has been proven to be a US mark, British mark, or the mark of any other country or military organization. All positively identified marks have been Confederate.
2) No evidence exists that Schuyler, Hartley & Graham ever marked the guns that they imported (or the domestic guns they sold). They imported thousands of guns, other than Enfields, from all over Europe and sold arms from US makers like Whitney and Mass Arms. To date no other guns have surfaced with the SH / G# mark, which suggests that this is most likely not their mark.
3) An extensive study of period documents, as well as the writings of the principles of Schuyler, Hartley & Graham located only ONE reference to the company as “SHG”, in all other cases the name was fully written out. Interestingly, period documents regularly refer to Sinclair, Hamilton & Company as “SHC”.
4)The mark has five variants, with the number after the “G” being either a 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5. Sinclair, Hamilton & Company used five “furnishers” for their 2nd Confederate contract for 30,000 P-1853 Enfield rifle muskets. These are the “JS/Anchor” guns with engraved numbers on their butt plate tangs. The furnishers often marked the comb of the butt with a single initial to indicate that they delivered the gun. The marks were B for EP Bond, F for Parker, Field & Son, K for James Kerr, (these 3 being London makers), S for Scott & Son and J for CW James (these last 2 being Birmingham makers). Just because their furnisher’s mark appeared on the stock, did not mean that they built the gun, only that they delivered to Sinclair, Hamilton & Company under this contract. It is rational to presume that the number following the “G” in the SH/G# mark refers to the furnisher for the contract.
5) The supposition in the last line of the above argument is further bolstered by the fact that at least one SH/G# marked gun is known to exist that also bears a furnisher’s marking letter. This is clear evidence of a gun with a known Confederate mark also bearing the SH/G# mark.
6)Over the last few years, several SH/G3 marked P-1853s have surfaced that also bear the Sinclair-Hamilton SH / C in an oval mark that is occasionally encountered on the breech of P-1853s delivered by that firm. The SH/C in an oval has been found on both the metal and the wood of SH/G# marked guns. 7) The SH/G# marked guns are often found with a script cartouche on the flat opposite the lock. For years, this cartouche has been identified as a script “JC”. More recent investigation has revealed the scrip letters are actually “IC” and are identical to the way in which Confederate contract arms viewer Isaac Curtis signed his name. As such, we have determined that this is really an Isaac Curtis inspection mark. Curtis was the same viewer who used the CH/1 mark and block IC inspection marks, primarily on arms delivered to the Confederacy by Barnett.
The guns that bear the (CROWN) / SH / G# mark are usually found with additional marks. Typically, a script cartouche will be found on the flat opposite the lock, and a set of inspectors’ initials will be found on the barrel, near the breech, either after or above the barrel proof marks. Several sets of initials have been noted on the barrel of SH/G# marked guns, including J.P. and S.W.. The numbers that follow the “G” in the mark range from 1 to 5, with 3 being the most often encountered number. 1 and 5 are rarely found on a gun. This supports the theory that the numbers refer to the furnisher who supplied the gun, as it is well documented that the furnishers of the JS/Anchor 2nd contract guns (30,000 in all) supplied the guns in varying numbers. James Kerr supplied only 500, less than 2% of the contract, while CW James delivered 10,000, fully 1/3 of the contract! The large majority of the SH/G# marked guns that have been encountered, are found with “TOWER” locks and are dated 1862.
This P-1853 Enfield Rifle Musket is clearly marked with the (CROWN) / SH / G3 on the comb of the stock, forward of the buttplate tang. As noted earlier, “3” is the most common mark, and likely refers to one of the two major Birmingham “furnishers; W&C Scott & Son or CW James. The lock is marked with the usual CROWN (with no “VR”) behind the hammer and is marked TOWER / 1862 forward of the hammer. The breech of the barrel is marked with standard Birmingham commercial proof and view marks, along with a pair of 25 gauge marks, indicating .577 caliber. The barrel also bears the additional S.W. inspection mark often encountered on the SH/G# guns. The toe of the stock is clearly marked with the name TAYLOR & NEWMAN. This is the standard location for a Birmingham gun maker to mark the guns that he delivered (sometimes called the master contractor mark). Taylor & Newman was a Birmingham gunmaking firm listed in the directories as Gun, Rifle & Pistol Makers. They were established in 1861 and remained in business until 1883. They were located at 270 Newtown Road the entire time that they were in business. Little is known about the firm, but the fact that they went into business in 1861 may well indicate that the American Civil War and the resultant arms contracts may have been the reason the firm was organized. This is the second TAYLOR & NEWMAN marked SH/G# gun that I have had, the last one had a blank lock, London proofs and was likely provided by Taylor & Newman to a London maker to fill a contract. In keeping with my theory about the what the numbers stand for, that London proved gun was one of the rarely encountered “5” marked P-1853s. The gun also bears the script I.C, which looks like a “JC” cartouche, the mark of Confederate arms inspector Isaac Curtis. The gun is additionally stamp numbered 22 on the tang of the brass buttplate. This is probably a rack number of some sort, but provides us with no further information.
The gun is in about VERY GOOD attic condition overall and has a really wonderful, period replaced rear sight that certainly “whistles Dixie”. The standard rear sight is missing, and fixed rear sight of brass is present. The sight has a very distinctive silhouette and is very similar to the rear sights found on the Confederate made Keen & Walker cavalry carbines and the Bilharz, Hall & Company muzzle loading musketoons. As Keen & Walker and Bilharz, Hall & Co were located about 20 miles from each other in the Danville, VA area, and since they both have similar proof marks on their barrels, it is believed that they used some local jobbers and makers as parts suppliers. This sight could well have been supplied by one of their local suppliers. There is another suggestion that the gun was repaired in a Virginia Confederate facility, there are four punch dots on the inside of the hammer neck. These types of mating marks were not usually used by British gun makers, but do appear on some Confederate altered and repaired muskets. The interior of the lock is marked only with a G near the mainspring boss stud, and with the English mating assembly mark \ \ /. The lock functions crisply, and is mechanically fine. It works well on all positions. The base of the original cone (nipple) is present in the bolster, but the upper portion of the cone is broken and long gone. The breech of the barrel is marked with the usual Birmingham commercial proof marks, a pair of 25 gauge marks (for .577 caliber) and the extra inspector initials S.W.. The bottom of the barrel is marked with the initials R.G. (likely the barrel maker), W and with the mating marks \ \ /. The surface of the barrel has a mostly smooth, plum brown patina. There is some light pitting and peppering in the breech and bolster area, as is usually found on percussion guns that saw any real service. The area from the breech to the back of the rear sight shows this minor roughness. The balance of the metal is mostly smooth with only some small, scattered light patches of oxidized peppering and pinpricking. The bore is in about VERY GOOD condition. It retains good rifling, but has a dark patina and shows light pitting along its entire length. An original ramrod is in the channel under the barrel, and it is in very good condition. It is full length, including the threads on the end. The rod is maker marked T & C / GILBERT, the mark of Thomas & Charles Gilbert of Birmingham. The firm was a major supplier of small work (screws, bands, small parts), as well as ramrods, gun tools, etc. The company went out of business circa 1862-1863. The gun is missing the middle barrel band, and the deep patina on the barrel in that area suggests the band has been missing since the period of use. The barrel remains much brighter under the remaining upper and lower bands, where they have protected the metal from oxidation. An upper sling swivel is in place, but the lower swivel is missing. The brass furniture has a wonderful deep bronze patina. The stock of the musket is in NEAR FINE condition, and retains strong edges throughout with no indication of having been sanded or refinished. As noted before, the stock flat opposite the lock is stamped with a script I.C in an oval cartouche. The initials PB are stamped inside the lock mortise and in the ramrod channel of the stock, along with the matching assembly mark \ \ /, as found on the other parts of the gun. The stock is full length and solid, with no breaks or repairs noted. There is a small chip of wood missing along the edge of the breech plug tang. The stock also shows a number of scattered bumps, dings, scratches and mars from service and use, but shows no abuse or serious damage.
Overall this is a very interesting example of a Confederate import marked and used P-1853 Enfield Rifle Musket, with what appears to be a Confederate replaced rear sight. While the condition of the gun is certainly not pristine, the gun is essentially untouched and shows real field use, just what we want to see in a Confederate long arm. Pristine examples likely never really fought. The gun has a really wonderful “been there, done that” look, and is not a parts gun or one that has been messed with in any way. This is one Enfield that you will not have to make any apologies for, definitely came here for the Civil War and would look wonderful in any display of American Civil War memorabilia.